Clément Abaïfouta and 6, 999 Others v the Republic of Chad (Hissène Habré case)

THE CASE

Hissène Habré, former president of Chad, presided over a reign of terror in Chad from 1982 to 1990, during which time widespread human rights violations were committed.

On 22 of August 2012 Senegal and the African Union signed an agreement that provided for the establishment of the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) within the Senegalese Judicial System. The EAC have competence over the persons who are most responsible for committing international crimes in Chad from 7 June 1982 to 1 December 1990. The EAC can also pursuant to its statute provide reparations to the victims falling within its jurisdiction.

Victims also turned to the Chadian courts to seek accountability and reparation in regards to international crimes committed by Habré officials.

ACTION FOR JUSTICE

In June 2013, Senegalese authorities arrested Hissène Habré. He was indicted in July 2013 for war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture. Habré’s trial before the EAC started in July 2015. The first instance judgement was delivered in July 2016 and resulted in Habré being sentenced to life imprisonment. The Court furthermore awarded financial compensation to the civil parties. Both the criminal and civil judgement were appealed before the Appeals Chamber which concluded its appeal hearings in January 2017.

On 8 February 2017, REDRESS submitted an amicus brief on reparations to the Appeals Chamber. The submission focused on the determination of the scope of beneficiaries of reparations and the forms and nature of reparations awarded to ensure that victims are provided with redress in line with the EAC statute and international standards. Furthermore, the amicus discussed at length the establishment of the Trust Fund that is provided for in the Statute and that has been crated by the African Union in July 2016.

In 2000, victims also filed a complaint against Habré-era officials before Chadian courts. Following several delays due to jurisdictional disputes, the Special Criminal Court of N’Djamena found on 25 March 2015 20 officers guilty of murder, acts of torture and barbarism, kidnapping, unlawful and arbitrary detention, intentional and lethal physical assault, cruel treatment and complicity.
The State of Chad was order to pay half of the compensation awarded to 7,000 victims, about USD 62.5 million in total. It also ordered the erection of a memorial to the victims within a period not exceeding one year, and for the former DDS headquarters to be transformed into a museum. The government of Chad has not complied with the judgement to this date.

On 28 March 2017, REDRESS and its partners sent a letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence together with a submission by Maître Jacqueline Moudeina, lawyer for the victims in the Hissène Habré, urging the Special Rapporteur to intervene with the Chadian government concerning the government’s failure to implement a reparation judgement by Chadian courts of 25 March 2015.

In November 2017, 7,000 victims of the Hissein Habré regime filed a human rights complaint against the Government of Chad before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The complaint accuses Chad of failing to comply with a judgement of the Special Criminal Court of N’Djamena of 25 March 2015. The Court awarded approximately USD 125 million in compensation to 7,000 victims who participated in the proceedings as civil parties. Finding that Chad was responsible for the acts of the security agents, it ordered the convicted perpetrators and the government to each pay half of the award of compensation. The victims are represented by their lawyers (Jacqueline Moudeina, Lambi Soulgan and Kemneloun Djirabé), and assisted by the Association Tchadienne pour la Promotion et la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, REDRESS, Human Rights Watch and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.

The African Commission decided to seize itself of the case. On 13 November 2018, REDRESS and its partners filed the Submissions on admissibility of the case. In these submissions, it is requested that the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights refer the case to the African Court.

OUTCOMES

On 27 April 2017, the Appeals Chamber of the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) confirmed Habré’s sentence to life imprisonment. In its decision, the Appeals Chamber partially upheld the initial reparations decision. The overall harm deriving from Habré’s criminal responsibility was quantified at 82,290 billion CFA francs.

The Appeals Chamber instructed the Trust Fund to implement the reparations order and did not rule out that collective and moral reparations could be implemented in the future.

REDRESS and the Association Tchadienne pour la Paix et les Droits de l’Homme (ATPDH)  made a submission to the African Union Office of Legal Affairs to support the establishment of the Trust Fund for Victims. The submission outlined what future Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Trust Fund could look like. In January 2018, the African Union adopted a statute for the Trust Fund, thereby enabling the Fund to start its work.

QUICK FACTS

  • Case Name:  Clément Abaïfouta and 6,999 Others v the Republic of Chad
  • Court/Body: African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
  • Date Filed: 10 November 2017
  • Current Status: Pending
  • Legal representation: Jacqueline Moudeina, Lambi Soulgan and Kemneloun Djirabé, and assisted by the Association Tchadienne pour la Promotion et la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (ATPDH), The Redress Trust (REDRESS), Human Rights Watch and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.